This was bound to happen, we're mostly just surprised it didn't happen sooner. You would think that with Pixar's long-standing track record of proving that originality, high standards and creative vision can produce results that please both audiences and critics, rival studios would copycat their Brain Trust structure. As much a part of their brand as the lamp in their logo, Pixar's Brain Trust -- a collection of writers, directors and more -- routinely look at in-progress projects, break them down, pick them apart and build them back up again, all to create the best movie possible. Animated movies take years to make, and yet the Brain Trust won't see one to completion unless it rigorously passes muster (though that doesn't explain "Cars 2"). At any rate, Warner Bros. is going to give the concept a shot.
While they're not launching a separate animation arm (yet), they have enlisted Phil Lord and Chris Miller (the studio's upcoming "Lego Movie"), Nicholas Stoller (writer of "The Muppets" and "Gulliver's Travels"), John Requa and Glenn Ficarra ("Crazy Stupid Love") as well as Jared Stern ("Mr. Popper's Penguins") to serve as the "creative consortium" Warners has put together. Basically, they will be a "think tank" or sounding board for the projects the studio is developing, as they are aiming right now for one animated movie per year. And they've already got some projects brewing.
In addition to "Lego Movie" coming next year, they've got "Storks," with a script by Stoller, set to be directed by Doug Sweetland, who was behind the great Pixar short "Presto," due for 2015. And in 2016 they'll drop "Smallfoot," penned by Ficarra and Requa, and directed by Sergio Pablos, an animator on "Despicable Me," who came up with the concept.
Basically, look at all the credits above and you can see why WB picked these guys. It's a savvy, smart move. Between this and DreamWorks Animations' increasingly impressive roster, Pixar is no longer the only game in town. Hopefully this will find everyone raising their game. [THR]